Aaron Fraser was only 3-years-old when his mother disappeared, but he insisted his father had been responsible.
As WJXT News reports, Bonnie Haim was 23-years-old when she vanished from the Jacksonville, Florida home she shared with her husband, Michael, and their young son. It was 1993, and Michael acknowledged that they’d been having marital problems and said his wife had just taken off.
Friends and relatives believed the mom was planning to flee with her young son. They say Michael abused his wife and that she was trying to put money aside so she could take her son and leave him.
Michael didn’t call the police about his wife’s disappearance, though he claimed that he did search for her.
According to NBC News, police didn’t get involved with Bonnie’s disappearance until her purse was found in a dumpster by a hotel maintenance worker. Suspicion fell on Michael, but Bonnie’s body was never found and authorities had difficulty making a case against him without it.
Though only 3 1/2, Fraser spoke to a social worker and insisted his father had been responsible for his mom’s disappearance. He told the caseworker, “Daddy hurt Mommy,” “Daddy shot Mommy,” and “My daddy could not wake her up.”
Because of Fraser’s young age, the caseworker was reluctant to press the boy to see if he’d been coached or knew right from wrong. She later testified that her primary concern was getting whatever facts she could.
Years passed and the case of Bonnie’s murder remained open. Fraser was adopted by friends and changed his last name. Beginning in 2000, Michael began renting out the family’s home — though his lease forbade any landscaping or digging in the backyard. Eventually, Michael moved to North Carolina.
According to First Coast News, Fraser brought a wrongful death suit against his biological father in 2005. He won $26 million, including the house they’d been living in when Bonnie disappeared.
In 2014 — 21 years after Bonnie disappeared — Fraser and his brother-in-law were at the house, doing renovations in the backyard. A water leak made it necessary to break up a concrete slab under an outdoor shower. Under that slab, they made a chilling discovery.
This week, Fraser recounted the story for a Florida court:
“I accidentally busted the bag and saw something I describe as a coconut. I picked up the coconut object and it ended up being the top portion of her skull. I had it in my hand. … Looked back in the hole and you could see teeth. At that point in time, you could see the top portion of her eye sockets.”
DNA tests would later confirm that Fraser had found his biological mother’s remains. There was also a casing that matched the caliber of a rifle Michael had owned.
The new evidence made it possible for police to arrest Michael and charge him with Bonnie’s death. Michael is currently standing trial for her murder. He is pleading not guilty.
On a Facebook page originally set up to get justice for Bonnie Haim, family members are now watching and hoping that the trial will bring closure. Just a month before Michael went on trial for his wife’s murder, Bonnie’s sister wrote:
“Today, I went back to St Augustine and lit a candle for Bonnie and for our family. Next month is going to hurt. It is going to rip off bandages and expose us to things we had long ago pushed to the back of our memories. But sometimes we have to rip off bandages to really begin to heal.”